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A return to childhood eating habits

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I know for a lot of people, returning to childhood favorites means sugary cereals, snack cakes and other such things. I guess I'm lucky. I grew up eating dry cheerios, frozen peas and salads as snack food. My favorite cereal for breakfast (I only got the sweet stuff once a month, maybe...if I begged,lol.) was Cracklin' Oat Bran. I'd usually find a turkey sandwich and a salad in the lunch my mom would send me to school with, and dinner was always a family affair, home cooked, with bread and a salad. Sure, I ate junk food, when I could get it, and we usually had sodas in the house. But for the most part, my diet was healthy. Maybe it had something to do with my Dad being in the dental care field and my mom being a preschool teacher.

Even when I went to college, I ate pretty well. My dorm had a kitchenette with a fridge and microwave, and one of my favorite recipes to this day is dijon-lemon salmon done in the microwave! But when I finally had a place of my own, my eating habits began to deteriorate. I fell prey to the thinking that eating the things I grew up with (fresh veggies, whole wheat breads, fruit) was more expensive than pre-packaged, heavily processed, high calorie food. That and of course I was enjoying eating all the things that had been so restricted at home. I gave in to my cravings at every turn. Of course, sometimes those cravings were actually for the good stuff (I think I'm addicted to cucumbers and melon!), but those were more rare than the junk food cravings.

Over the five years or so since I moved out on my own, the weight snuck up on me. I told myself that it was just because I was getting older and filling out. Sure, some of the weight was because of this, but not all 36lbs. When I first joined SP, I did my best to track my calories, and it made me nuts. The weighing, the measuring, and especially the trying to figure out the serving sizes for the various recipes I create on the fly. Eventually, it drove me away from SP and my goals here all together.

At the start of this year, I joined the 28 day challenge, and I've been sticking to the workouts pretty faithfully, even if I have had to rearrange them some to fit my schedule. When I got the week 2 email and one of the goals was to "track every bite of food for at least three days", I was annoyed. I have no desire at all to do this. Not to mention it's entirely too easy for me to become entirely too obsessive about calories in vs. calories out. So, while I was ranting about it to myself (and the fur-babies) while doing some cleaning, I realized what would work best for me.

Loosing weight for me isn't about obsessive tracking (nothing wrong with tracking calories, I just know how I get with it) or cutting out junk food and sweets completely. I was small growing up...just shy of 100lbs going in to the sixth grade and 115 at the end of highschool (with a brief stop at 150 due to a medication I was on). I started thinking about how I was eating and what I was doing back then, and that's when it came to me. I had a bagel with cream cheese or a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I'd grab a snack two or three hours later (somewhere between second and third period in school), have a sandwich and salad for lunch, or sometimes leftovers from the night before (my mom's chicken,peas and rice was a real treat), a salad or two for a snack when I'd get home and then dinner with the parents. I rode my bike nearly every day, sometimes to get someplace where I could rollerblade. I danced with friends for no reason at all. I played with our yellow lab, Butterscotch, in the back yard. When other kids were sneaking out at night to party, I was doing it to take a late night walk under the full moon.

Was I in peak shape? Don't know, probably not. Was I healthy? Definitely. I was hardly ever sick, or even just under the weather. Was I at a healthy weight? Yes, even a little under before I put on muscle later in my teenage years. Looking back on all that now, I can't help but wonder why I should make myself insane by forcing myself to track everything I eat when a simple return to the eating (and activity) habits of my childhood would probably work just as well. I know now that if I shop smart, I can get all the yummy, healthy things I've always loved for a really good price, often cheaper than the junk I've been living on. Hell, I'd love to return to eating the way I did growing up (I've got to find that chicken and rice recipe!).

I have no intention of stopping my workouts. I actually kind of enjoy them, good stress relief. I'm getting the gears fixed on my bike for the warmer weather since I live in a very bike friendly part of town, and new wheels for my blades so I can rely more on those than cardio videos when this icky white fluffy stuff on the ground goes away. I'm getting a better harness for the cat and a new leash for the dog so I can take them on walks...yeah, the cat's leash trained. Between all of that, and eating more and more like I did growing up, I feel like I can get back to looking the way I want to, and maintain it. If I don't see it working after a couple of months, I will rethink ignoring the food tracker.

Now if you will excuse me, I have pita bread, hummus and tuna salad (gotta love Miracle Whip!) calling my name from the kitchen!
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